Parking in Shropshire Council car parks will be free from 11am to 6pm between December 3 and 17 January, to provide the county’s town centre traders with a welcome boost once the current lockdown ends.
It’s hoped that the free parking will encourage people to visit local businesses in the run up to Christmas and in the post-Christmas period.
With social distancing measures in the county’s town centres set to be in place from 3 December, visitors will also be able to visit towns safely, as well as for free.
Charges will apply between 8am and 11am each day, and people paying to park during these hours are encouraged to pay by app, text or phone using MiPermit, to avoid having to queue at, or touch, a pay and display machine.
The 11am threshold is to ensure the focus is on supporting town centre visitors, rather than workers, and to help avoid congestion at peak times.
On-street parking charges will remain so that the parking bays can be used for those needing to use the 15 minutes’ ‘pop and shop’ free parking, and to provide short-stay and easy access to essential services in the town centres – especially for those who find it difficult to walk significant distances.
Parking is already free in all surface car parks after 6pm and, under this offer, Raven Meadows multi-storey will also remain free after 6pm and overnight.
Steve Davenport, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways and transport, said:
“We know that this year has been a challenging one for our town centres, for our local businesses, and for the local economy. We hope this offer will give all of our traders a much-needed boost once the current lockdown ends by encouraging people to visit our town centres in the run-up to Christmas, and into January.
“We want everyone to think local and shop local this Christmas and beyond – our local businesses will very much welcome your custom – and we hope this offer will help encourage people to do so.
“Clearly health and safety will remain a top priority. Our town centres will have social distancing measures in place to support safer shopping, and we remind people using our car parks and visiting our town centres to follow latest Government guidance, and take note of any signage.”
Adele Nightingale, Oswestry BID manager, said:
“Oswestry BID welcomes any initiative that will help to encourage footfall back into our town centres. It has been a tough year and so anything that can assist our businesses and the community at large is appreciated and seen as a positive step!”
Richard Sheehan, managing director of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said:
“Shropshire Chamber of Commerce welcomes this initiative to support our town centre businesses in this time of extreme difficulty. We all have the opportunity to use this gesture to support our local retailers and hospitality venues; buy local has never been more important and use it or lose it really is something none of us want and all of us can avoid.”
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said:
“This will certainly be welcomed by town centre traders, who have had so many challenges to deal with this year.
“Christmas is always a hugely important time of the year for retail and hospitality businesses, so we hope removing car parking charges will encourage more people to come and support their local town centre.”
The free parking offer doesn’t include Prees Heath HGV Coach and Car Park; Crossways HGV, Coach and Car Park in Church Stretton; and the car parks at The Moors and Castlefields near The Mere in Ellesmere, and Severn Valley Country Park car parks at Alveley and Highley.